Systems and Synthetic Bioengineering

Biological systems are incredibly complex. Gaining predictive understanding of their function will enable solutions to grand challenges in medicine, energy, and the environment. Much of our understanding of biological systems comes from the study of their individual “parts”, yet we have relatively poor understanding of how these parts are organized and assemble to enable the remarkable functions of cells, tissues, organisms, and ecosystems. BU faculty are applying the complementary approaches of systems and synthetic biology to investigate, understand, and exploit the design principles of complex biological systems. In systems biology, we are developing pioneering genomic technologies to map molecular networks in cells with high-resolution, and building computational models to predict their physiological and disease-related behaviors. BU faculty are also advancing the emerging discipline of synthetic biology, which offers a powerful, bottom-up approach to investigate and rewire these systems. We are developing methods to rationally design and evolve biological circuits, creating fundamentally new systems not found in nature, and using them to reprogram cellular behavior. Our efforts are paving the way for a new foundation of cell-based devices, diagnostics, and therapies that will provide transformative ways to combat complex diseases.


Systems and Synthetic Bioengineering Faculty 

Primary Faculty: Christopher ChenCharles Delisi, Mary Dunlop, James Galagan, Alexander Green,  Xue Han, Simon Kasif, Ahmad (Mo) KhalilJohn NgoAllyson Sgro, Wilson Wong, Muhammad Zaman

Research Faculty: Dmitri Beglov, Katie Bentley, James J. Collins, Jeroen Eyckmans, Dima Kozakov

Affiliated Faculty: Douglas Densmore, Andrew Emili, Pankaj Mehta, Daniel Segrè

Emeritus: Charles Cantor, Temple F. Smith, Maxim Frank-Kamenetskii


Affiliated Research Centers


BME Systems and Synthetic Bioengineering in the news:

Professor Ji-Xin Cheng and Coworkers Published in Nature Communications

By Caroline Amato BU researchers reported an ultrafast fingerprint-stimulated Raman spectroscopic imaging platform, with broad applications to cancer metabolism, brain mapping, and biofuel production, in Nature Communications on May 24th, 2021.  This work was funded by grants from the Department of Energy and the NIH.  ECE Professors Ji-Xin Cheng and Lei Tian... More

3 BME Professors Elected to IAMBE

Congratulations to BU BME Professors Chris Chen, Joyce Wong and Mark Grinstaff on being elected 2021 Fellows of The International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering. More

One Small Step For A Mouse: Using Information Science to Understand the Brain

by Allison Kleber How does learning a new skill or process change the physical structure of the brain? Using techniques from data science and high-dimensional statistics, Professors Bobak Nazer (ECE), Venkatesh Saligrama (ECE, SE), and Xue Han (BME), aim to find out. Their project, titled “Discovering Changes in Networks: Fundamental Limits, More

Three ENG Faculty Named AIMBE Fellows

Three ENG faculty members have been elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE): Associate Professor Doug Densmore (ECE, BME), Associate Professor Mo Khalil (BME), and Professor Katherine Zhang (ME, BME, MSE). More

Wong Lab Develops Smarter Cancer-Killing Cells

A system of engineered cells that communicate, targeting autoimmune diseases too By Patrick L. Kennedy New research out of the College of Engineering could enable doctors to program a patient’s immune system with a more versatile toolkit than ever before in the fight against cancer, as well as autoimmune diseases. Associate Professor... More